Anger of residents near Sevenoaks over NATS’ Gatwick flight plan proposals
There is currently a consultation, by NATS, on changes to flight paths to and from Gatwick (as well as London City, Southend, and Biggin Hill airports) that ends on 21st January. There is real concern in the Weald area, that is overflown by Gatwick flights, that planes may bring them flights overhead flying at less than 4,000 feet over them from 2015. NATS and Gatwick claim the changes will “make the airport more efficient, reduce delays and allow more departures per hour”, so making things more convenient for air travellers. Weald residents are outraged at the disturbance these changes, for passenger benefit, could cause them. They have formed a campaign – the Weald Action Group Against Noise – and have organised petitions. They will deliver the signatures to Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon and are urging people to contact him directly via e-mail and to object through the online Gatwick Airport and National Air Traffic Services public consultation as well. The action group fears the proposals would “bring considerably more flights directly over Weald village at a height of under 4,000 feet”, creating noise up to 70 decibels, equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, with more than 20 flights an hour at peak times.” Gatwick says “overall” the changes will reduce noise for those living below – but that ignores far worse conditions created for some.
Map showing location of Weald village some 14 miles east-north-east from Gatwick airport
Residents’ anger over flight plan proposals
By Emma Curry
PEOPLE in Weald are bracing themselves for the sound of aircraft thundering over their homes if plans to change flight paths go ahead.
Residents are up in arms after proposals were revealed to route planes arriving and departing from Gatwick Airport’s Runway 26 over the village.
DEPARTURE FROM THE NORM: Skies over West Kent face the biggest shake-up since the Second World War
The planned changes will see flights flying less than 4,000 feet above Weald from 2015.
Air chiefs claim they will “make the airport more efficient, reduce delays and allow more departures per hour”, but Weald residents are outraged at the disturbance this could cause.
They have formed a campaign – the Weald Action Group Against Noise – and have placed petitions in The Old Bakery and The Windmill Public House.
They plan to deliver the signatures to Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon and are urging people to contact him directly via e-mail and to object through the online Gatwick Airport and National Air Traffic Services public consultation as well.
They say the proposals would “bring considerably more flights directly over Weald village at a height of under 4,000 feet”, creating noise up to 70 decibels, equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner, with more than 20 flights an hour at peak times.
“We’re worried about the noise and reduction in enjoyment of the countryside,” Roger Trapp, action group founder, said.
“We’ve already got the A21, which is a problem.
“The district council is considering making Weald a conservation area and now it could be a flight path.
“You associate conservation areas with peace and tranquility -the two seem counterintuitive.”
He added that the plans are vague and “a bit wide ranging”.
“They are very hard to understand,” he said, “I don’t know if that’s deliberate.
“This could lead to who knows what.”
In a letter to residents, Mr Trapp, of Hubbards Hill, and the other founders of the action group, Tim Olley and Brian Saunders, say they “do not know the possible effects of noise, fuel residues and other contaminants from extensive low level flights”.
“The noise level will certainly have a profound effect on the tranquility of life for all in the proposed flight path,” they say and Mr Trapp says the effect could reach as far as Sevenoaks centre.
“It may affect Sevenoaks as a whole,” he said.
“You can hear the motorway from in the town already.”
The proposals are the biggest flight path shake-up in the skies above Sevenoaks since the end of the Second World War.
Gatwick and National Air Traffic Services say that advances in technology, the demand being placed on the “invisible highways” above West Kent and impending European legislation have prompted their plans for an overhaul.The airport says that “overall” the changes will reduce noise, air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions for people living below.
To view the plans and have you your say in the consultation, which closes on January 21, go to www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk
The consultation is available online at www.londonairspaceconsultation.co.uk. The postcode search facility and clickable maps with consultation areas clearly marked makes it easy to see which proposed changes have the most relevance to a specific location. Feedback can be given directly on the website.
Government to make no significant change to night flights regime at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted until Airports Commission report
November 11, 2013
In January 2013 the DfT put out the first part of its consultation on the night flight regime at the UK’s 3 designated airports,Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted. The DfT said then that the 2nd consultation would be publishes later this year, to include specific proposals for the new regime, such as the number of permitted night flights – informed by the evidence from the first consultation. The DfT has now published this 2nd stage, but instead of any specific measures, it proposes no significant change to the night flight regime at Heathrow until 2017. It says it does not want to pre-empt the findings of the Airports Commission which is due to publish its final report in summer 2015. The current night flight regime for the 3 airports ends in October 2014. Normally a new regime is put in place to cover the next 5 – 6 years. This time the Government has decided in effect to roll-over the existing regime until 2017. The only change for Heathrow is a proposal “to extend the operational ban on the noisiest types of aircraft to include an extra half hour, the 23.00-23.30 period.
GACC warns that new flight paths proposed by NATS and Gatwick airport could affect thousands around Gatwick
October 20, 2013
GACC has reacted strongly to proposals to revamp many of the existing flight paths around Gatwick , which have been put forward for consultation jointly by NATS and Gatwick Airport Ltd. These plans, which are nothing to do with a 2nd runway, include new flight paths over areas which are at present peaceful – in order to increase the number of aircraft able to use the runway; more concentrated flight paths based on more accurate aircraft navigation, which will effectively make life hell for many people affected; a major reform of the pattern of aircraft queuing up to land, which will bring aircraft noise to many areas currently not affected; and the possibility of ‘respite’ by using two flight paths on alternate days. This consultation includes nothing to show where the new flight paths might be. Instead it is couched in general terms, asking people to comment on broad concepts. There are no maps, and it is apparently intended that no maps will be produced until after the end of the consultation, and NATS and Gatwick do not intend to hold a second consultation. GACC is advising its members to study the new consultation and to express their views forcefully.
Airspace consultation launched by NATS and Gatwick Airport – for Gatwick, London City, Southend & Biggin Hill airport areas
October 16, 2013
NATS, the UK’s provider of air traffic services, and Gatwick Airport have started a joint consultation today on proposed airspace changes over southern England. It is called the London Airspace Consultation (LAC) and it will run for 14 weeks, until January 21st, 2014. The public can respond. The consultation is on swathes of airspace – not exact routes – which will be determined after consideration of the consultation feedback. That makes commenting difficult. NATS says this is the first stage in a wider programme of proposed changes to deliver the UK’s Future Airspace Strategy (FAS), which is being developed by the CAA. The intention is that the FAS will help airlines make efficiencies in fuel use, and perhaps reduce noise for those over-flown. New European legislation requires all member States, including the UK, to revise airspace and maximise the use of new technologies, to get noise and CO2 benefits. The current NATS consultation involves airspace around Gatwick and also London City Airport. Later stages will deal with other areas of airspace in other parts of the London airports network, and should be completed by 2020. Local residents fear the real motive is to pack in more flights.